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Disability

person in wheelchair with laptopDefined

A person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

Physical or mental impairment includes

  • Sensory impairments such as those affecting sight or hearing.
  • Mental impairments covers a wide range of impairments related to mental functioning, including mental health conditions, dyslexia and other impairments referred to generically as learning disabilities.
  • Hidden conditions such as, diabetes and epilepsy.
  • Medical conditions such as cancer, HIV infection, and multiple sclerosis.
  • Severe disfigurement.
  • Progressive conditions and fluctuating and recurring conditions — in certain circumstances.

Long-term means that the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months or for the rest of the affected person’s life.

Substantial means more than minor or trivial.

Day-to-day activities includes activities such as walking, driving, using public transport, cooking, eating, lifting and carrying objects, writing, going to the toilet, talking, listening etc.

In most circumstances, a person will have the protected characteristic of disability if they have had a disability in the past, even if they no longer have the disability.

Equality Law

Find out more about disability-related equality law in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Learn more

Policy & Guidance

We have provided an overview of our disability-related policy and guidance. Learn more

OU Resources

You may be interested in some of the resources we provide for our staff and students. Learn more

External Resources

You may be interested in these useful web links to organisations with disability-related information. Learn more

image: Praisaeng | freedigitalphotos.net